Commuter Woes

Whether it’s part of your daily participation in the rat race or just an occasional jaunt you’ve probably all jumped on the tube (aka the Underground) at rush hour.

If I didn’t have to travel at rush hour I wouldn’t, I would avoid the hoards of 9-5ers, tourists and the other poor souls subjected to stuffy, smelly and squashed carriages.

It is at rush hour where I turn into a slightly different person, it seems it’s all for one and one for all here, manners suddenly cease to exist once some people enter a tube station. Pushing, shoving and a complete lack of personal space apparently become the norm (though I don’t push or shove and i like my personal space), with people elbowing you, reading your iPhone over your shoulder and breathing heavily on your neck, a real delight…

Here are my top tips to keep you sane on the tube:

  1. Don’t wear nice shoes you care about, even my smallish size 4 feet are constantly trampled on, no matter where or how neatly I place them. Wear flip flops at your own risk.
  2. Someone will fight you for a seat, and then they will get off at the next station. It happens a lot, don’t stress about it.
  3. People do fight for the arm rests, this is a war i don’t even bother to participate in. It is not worth it, unless they encroach further than the armrest and into your seat – if they do, fiddling with your hair, in pockets or handbag tend to gently nudge people enough to get the hint.
  4. That brightly colored pole isn’t for leaning it, it’s for holding onto so that passengers don’t end up on a strangers lap or thrown across the carriage if the train has to stop sharply. Please don’t lean on it (especially if my hand is holding it – that can’t be comfortable!)
  5. Stand in the aisle between the seats (on tubes where you can) you end up with more space than near the doors, and are more likely to get a seat.
  6. Carry an iPod or headphones for your phone so you can block out listening to other commuters ‘music’,  just don’t be one of those people that shares it with everyone by turning the volume up super loud.
  7. People will read their Newspaper on you, I find shuffling around in my bag or playing with my hair a few times annoys them enough to stop sharing their paper with me and my personal space.
  8. Enjoy your personal space while it lasts, some commuters have no issues with standing on you, over you or just stabbing you with their handbag, shopping, elbow and even knees. Stand firm, especially if you were there first and they decide to stand on you when you aren’t doing anything wrong.
  9. People will attempt to hold your hand or your fingers if you are holding a pole. Some people don’t find touching a complete strangers hand weird….FYI IT IS WEIRD!
  10. When a dog gets on everyone smiles, unless it’s a Rottweiler or a Doberman….that’s another way to create a lot more personal space.
  11. Take off your huge rucksack, and stop knocking out everyone within a metre radius. If you’re standing in the aisle please stop draping your handbag, shopping, gym kit, scarf, jacket or whatever additional luggage you have on the person sat down in front of you. They don’t need your personal items in their face or on their knees.
  12. If you’re waiting on the platform, and you’ve just seen someone step off the train and stand to the side (in front of you) to let other passengers off don’t try to jump on the train before then, they were already on the train, let them get on first. 
  13. When a train comes into the station the doors will open, this is where the current passengers get off before you get on, people that understand this simple concept stand to each side and let them get off….those who don’t attempt to push their way through those trying to get off, it’s amusing.
  14. Many tourists have no idea how the tube works, but give them a bit of a break, we’ve all been there. Guide books tend to forget the important things about the Tube so they will hold you up at the ticket barrier, they won’t stand on the right of the escalator, they will stand in the middle of the station for no real reason and they won’t move down the middle of the train so everyone can get on. However, the worst offenders are those large groups that swing around the carriage arrogantly, while shouting across the train at each other…headphones are again useful!
  15. Avoid rush hour (if you can), travelling after 10am, before 4pm and after 7pm is a lot more peaceful, well during the week anyway.
  16. Download CityMapper, it’s the perfect London routing app to help you get from A to B, you can even select a ‘rain safe’ journey which in London is a real gem.
  17. If God had wanted us to make eye contact on the Tube, then why did he give us the Evening Standard?– A writer for the Evening Standard.

Good luck out there, may the odds be forever in your favour! 


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